Saturday, March 2, 2013

Lille: foodie heaven

It makes me sad when good people don't eat awesome food when they come to Lille. It makes me sad, not because many visitors think the city starts and ends in the Vieux Lille and that the good food is limited to the long list of Lillois institutions, like Les Moules. Ok, fine, I've personally never been...but that's by choice. I read about David Lebovitz's recent escapade to Lille and I thought, "oh no! He didn't eat there?!" and I felt really sad for him. Granted, I've never eaten at Les Moules but that's by's an institution, but like so many institutions, well, there's better. I mean, I don't want to talk badly about a place I've never been, but...

Lille has so much to offer in terms of gustative experience (is that a word?). Yes, Meert (where Charles de Gaulle supposedly got shipments of bourbon vanilla cream filled waffles from during his exile in England) and les Merveilleux (meringue covered with butter cream and chocolate shavings) are institutions, but so is the tart au maroilles, vieux Lille cheese and tarte au sucre (I'm so glad David did mention this in his post). For the record, I prefer the fresh waffles made in the covered market in Wazemmes to the Meert version, even if Charles de Gaulle risked his life for them).

Tarte au sucre is one of the most wonderful things that exists (next to maroilles pie of course). If done right, it's got a rich, buttery bottom, a slightly gooey, sweet yet surprinsingly non-cloying light custard filling and a crunchy top. I've never managed to do it right. But I have made beer pie which I think may be the same thing...what's a little brown sugar without beer?

Here are a couple of my favorite restaurants in Lille, if you're looking for traditional cht'i food.
Renaissance, a small brasserie near the Lille Flanders station, only open for lunch during the week) for a delicious onglet au maroilles; le Barbue d'Anvers for any number of delicious cht'i influenced creations in either of their two locations. For an interesting dining atmosphere, try La Terrasse des Remparts which is in the old Port de Gand (the city gate leading to Ghent, Belgium) - the food's decent and the cadre is even better. Or try la Cave aux Fioles. Steer clear of the estaminet in the Vieux Lille unless you really can't drive to the Flemish countryside for farm dining.

And if you can get to the Marché de Wazemmes, I highly recommend the polish butcher (try the polish sausage selection and the coq au vin) and Carlier-Vogier, a Mediterranean cheese and meat counter (fresh pasta and divine cheese selection!). Or try the cheese pies made by Papa, a tall white haired Corsican man who makes the most divine cheese pies in his little white truck. He's located to the West of the covered market across from the Brulerie. Continue south past Papa and you'll find rue Jules Guesde where there's a plethera of Chinese stores, including Asie Nord which is full of delicious Asian ingredients and a very helpful staff. Just up the street on the opposite, you'll find the Mekong.  Try the bun bo and the shrimp pad thai or if you're really hungry, try the fondue.

For some warm and cozy eating in an original setting, get a burger with maroilles at the Peek-a-Boo. And if after all those choices, you still want mussels, you can go to les Moules or you can try the maroilles mussels at la Houblonnière on the Grand Place. (I forgot to mention l'huitrière...but that's perhaps a freudian slip since I may be the only person having ever walked out of there saying my meal was "ehn"). 

And now for the recipe, first in English then in French.

Tarte à la bière (Beer Pie)

For the crust : 1 egg
200g flour
100g butter
75g powdered sugar

Filling: 25cl of amber beer (I use bière de garde)
200g of dark or light brown sugar
2 eggs
35g butter

Mix all of the ingredients for the crust. Roll the crust and put it in the pie plate. Poke some holes with a fork and sprinkle on the brown sugar. Mix the eggs and the beer. Pour it on top of the sugar. Put small pieces of butter on top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes on 465°F (240°C) .

Tarte à la bière

Pour la pâte sucrée : 1 oeuf
200g de farine
100g de beurre
75 g de sucre glace (ou bien une pâte sablée). Garniture : 25cl de bière ambrée
200g de cassonade brune ou blonde
2 oeufs entiers
35g de beurre

Mélanger les ingrédients de la pâte sucrée. Etaler la pâte et disposer dans un moule à tarte. Piquer légèrement et garnir de cassonade. Mélanger les oeufs et la bière. Verser dans le moule, sur la vergeoise. Parsemer de petits morceaux de beurre. Cuire 30 à 35 minutes à 240°.

No comments: